Recently we learned that Disney was open to selling part of ESPN to a potential partner if the deal was right. This comes from a June interview with CNBC, where Disney CEO Bob Iger said he was open to partnering with other companies to make a new ESPN streaming service work including selling part of ESPN.
This comes as ESPN is working on launching a direct-to-consumer streaming service. This new service would let subscribers watch live ESPN without the need for cable TV.
Since that interview, reports have been flying about who Disney is talking to. Major sports leagues, including the NFL, and rivals like Comcast have all been suggested as potential ESPN Partners. Now, The Information is reporting that Amazon and Disney are in early talks to partner on ESPN’s streaming partnership.
According to the report, Amazon is in talks to possibly offer an ESPN streaming service, likely through its Amazon Channels service. This deal could also see Amazon take a minority stake in ESPN. Amazon has a lot to offer Disney with its ability to stream live events, and a customer base that Disney could use to promote ESPN’s new streaming service.
Amazon is not the only company Disney is reportedly talking to. A few weeks ago, the New York Post reported that Disney has been in talks with media companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and T-Mobile, to name a few. The goal is reportedly to take advantage of their technology to help expand the reach of ESPN’s new direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Last week The Information reported that Verizon and Disney have started talks about a possible partnership with Verizon and ESPN. Verizon could be a great partner for its technology and a possible bundle deal similar to the Disney+ bundle Verizon recently offered to its wireless subscribers.
Disney owns 80% of ESPN, and the rest is owned by Hearst. Disney would likely want to keep as much ownership as possible, but if the right partner comes along it may be open to selling part of the storied sports network.